Before we jump in to the must-have WordPress Plugin list, I want to dive a little deeper into WordPress Plugins in general. If you don’t know what I am talking about, stop right now and watch my video on how to use WordPress as this will introduce you to the platform and the basics.
For new bloggers, this post should give you some insight into what they are and how to use them. For you experienced bloggers, you can scroll on down to my recommended plugins to see if there are any you are currently not using on your own site that you may want to consider!
What is a WordPress Plugin?
Simply put, WordPress plugins are tools to extend the functionality of WordPress. There may be features that you’d like for your blog that don’t come with the basic version of WordPress. Some examples are:
- An email service provider opt-in form on your sidebar
- A ‘Pin it’ icon appear when people hover over your images
- A contact form on your ‘contact me’ page
How to install & set up a WordPress Plugin
In your WordPress dashboard sidebar, hover over “Plugins” and click “Add new”. From here, you can search for plugins using key words or the plugin name if you know it. Once that is done, your Plugin is completely installed! There are sometimes settings you need to fill out, depending on the plugin. Some plugins will be added directly to your WordPress menu, whereas others may be found under the “Settings” section of your menu.
The Must-Have List
Here are the plugins I consider to be ‘the must haves’ for starting a blog.
I’m linking all of these as well, however, you do not need to download them. Instead, use the search method explained above and just paste the name in exactly as they appear below and you’ll be able to install them without having to download and upload.
- Akismet: Akismet is key to reducing the number of spam comments you get, and comes with WordPress, so you already have this one. However, you need to activate it to set it up. To do so, you need to create a free WordPress.com account and then get your API key. Once you have that, you can go into Plugins > Installed Plugins, find Akismet, and click on “settings” to input and update.
- Comment Reply Notification: When someone leaves a comment on your blog, and you reply to it, it does not automatically notify them of the response. This plugin ensures that they are notified by sending an email letting them know that you (or someone else) have responded.
- Contact Form Plugin: Want a simple contact form? This plugin will give you that!
EMAIL SIGN UP/OPT-IN
- MailChimp: This plugin creates a widget that allows you to add a simple Mailchimp subscribe form to your sidebar.
- ConvertKit: For ConvertKit (affiliate link) users, this plugin let’s me add opt-in forms to the bottom of each of my posts!
- Maintenance Mode: This is great for when your site is live but you want to make updates. You simply turn it on to “true” and it will give visitors a notification that you are performing maintenance and to check back later.
- downML: This downloads a backup of your media library (all of your images). I do this from time to time to be safe.
- Pinterest Pin It Button For Images: This will add a “pin it” button to your images when people hover over them.
- Simple Social Icons: This is a widget that provides a simple way to put your social media icons into your sidebar. I currently use this in mine.
- Yoast SEO Plugin: For those of you looking to optimize your blog for SEO, this is a great plugin to help ensure you do so.
- Pretty Link: This just cleans up affiliate links so instead of being a long jumbled link of numbers and letters, it is something more attractive and descriptive, like ProductiveandPretty.com/GoDaddy.
- Better Delete Revision: Did you know that every time you hit ‘save’ while writing a post or page, it saves the revision? You don’t need these once you are ready to publish, and they are taking up valuable real-estate within your database.
- EWWW Image Optimizer: Another space-saving, speed-boosting plugin I love, this optimizer reduces file sizes of images.
- Edit Flow: This makes it possible to create a deeper editorial work flow. There are a ton of features to this plugin, but I use it predominantly for adding additional post status (draft, pending review, published) options like Needs a Photo, Needs SEO, etc.
- Good Writer Checkify: I LOVE this plugin. As someone who likes having lists with me at all times, this is a great way to incorporate a to-do list right within the posts dashboard.
- Broken Link Checker: Nothing irritates me more than when a blogger hooks me with a link, I click, and then I hit a ‘page not found’. Don’t let this be you. Catch broken links immediately using this plugin!